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Following upon a sensational opening just a few short months ago, the new venues for Jazz at Lincoln Center are beginning to develop interesting personalities with Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola leading the pack as a favorite with out-of-towners and local aspiring musicians.
The club has adopted a wise philosophy that utilizes a mixture of star headliners who appear in the standard Tuesday through Saturday stints that have become the norm with Gotham bookings. In addition, the producers have included a strategic selection of Jam sessions, student musicians and improvised events that have succeeded in quickly making the room a major hangout for late night jazz aficionados.
Along with my duties teaching Shakespeare and Classical Greece at Pace University, I also teach a course in Jazz History and always take the students on a class trip to hear some jazz at a club or concert venue. This semester I decided to take them to the new home for Jazz at Lincoln Center in the Time-Warner building. After showing the group the spectacular Rose theater and the dramatic Allen room with its view of 59th St. and Central Park, Lisa Davis, a knowledgeable staffer, deposited us at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola where we had a wonderful supper and enjoyed some cutting edge jazz performances.
Every Monday night at Dizzy's, Victor Goines, the artistic director of the Jazz program at the Juillard School of Music, leads the Juillard Jazz Ensemble in an intriguing performance session dubbed "Upstarts and Mentors. With director Goines and fellow member of the Lincoln Center Jazz orchestra Wycliffe Gordon leading the way, the Juillard student musicians soloed mightily alongside their distinguished mentors. The stage at Dizzy's was jumping. After the jam, pianist Jeb Patton and his trio settled into a lovely set of standards while patrons dined gazing out onto the romantic New York skyline. Later, neighborhood musicians were invited to sit in and the atmosphere of an old fashioned hip club was magically created. Dizzy's has become the Minton's Playhouse of the millennium. Incidentally, the student price of admission for all of this is an incredible $10.00!
In the next few weeks, other jazz groups from around the country have been invited to Dizzy's for the Monday Jam. Players from the Manhattan School of Music, Temple University Jazz Band, and Florida State Jazz Combo will appear. The headliner shows at Dizzy's in May include: Marian McPartland's 86th birthday celebration with a cavalcade of all-stars, and the Joe Lovano quartet featuring Mulgrew Miller, George Mraz and Paul Motian.
Dizzy Gillespie would indeed have been proud of this remarkable new jazz setting bearing his name.